Kosovo’s Declaration Will Have Consequences


Kosovo has declared independence and America will recognize it as a state. Consequently, Russia will eventually make us pay a high price in other aspects of our national security portfolio for this international sleight-of-hand.
What saddens me is that I have learned from a source close to the Kremlin that the Russians secretly suggested a road map and time table for Kosovo independence to the Bush administration. The Russians would never have been pleased with Kosovo going it alone — but there were things to manage Russian issues with Georgia, Serbia, Kosovo and the region that could have been simultaneously managed to keep both sides from undermining the other.
The Russians believe that their suggestions were ignored because the U.S. wanted to be able to declare a victory — which is harder to do when negotiating outcomes that are face-saving to both sides.
America and NATO will now be in less of a position to help Georgia and other former Eastern European states and the US may pay a price in its ability to forge a common position with Russia on Iran.
For some excellent commentary on these issues, read Dimitri Simes’ piece in Foreign Affairs titled “Losing Russia” as well as this exchange between Simes and Frank Wisner on Kosovo, and these comments from my colleague Anatol Lieven.

— Steve Clemons


6 comments on “Kosovo’s Declaration Will Have Consequences

  1. taiwan_main_man says:

    Oh, give me a good god-damned break.
    Taiwan kept it’s independence because the Chiang regime robbed the allies blind during WWII and then robbed the U.S. again during Vietnam and Korea.
    Moreover, Taiwan “turned itself into a democracy” because of one man: Chiang Ching-Kuo (Jiang Jing-guo); Chiang Ching-kuo _despised_ the United States. He went behind its back to establish a time-frame for Taiwan reunnification with the mainland; he helped establish Taiwan’s first opposition party (the DPP) and negotiate free elections _against_ the wishes of U.S. advisors; he developed Taiwan’s tech sector expressly _contrary_ to the advice of U.S. experts; and he managed Taiwan’s land redistribution program using U.S. advisors while implementing _Soviet_ policies.
    Taiwan is, in the estimation of our elite, nothing more than a conveniently kept woman.
    Taiwan hasn’t been invaded solely because Mainland China knows that to do so would be, for the moment, suicide — and not because of the Taiwanese military. Read Jane’s Defense articles on Taiwan and you’ll find that there are very good strategic reasons for the U.S. interest in Taiwan; at the same time, you’ll find that the CCCP military buildup is the foundation upon which our next generation of new-cons are building their future pro-Halliburton invasion.
    Taiwan, in point of fact, is far closer to the Kosovan situation than you (and many)’d care to admit; the primary distinction between today’s Kosovo and the Taiwan of 30 years ago is that the China of that time had already suffered over 40 years of constant warfare, while the Kosovans didn’t have a chance to pillage every last artifact, machine, or precious metal as they retreated to their mountain stronghold.
    Kosovo is just more of the same; the unfortunate truth is that, internationally, the U.S. is now far below half-strength in comparison to where it was 30 years ago.
    It’s long past the time people in D.C. woke up to that fact.


  2. Dave Huntsman says:

    While I deeply sympathize with the desire of the Kosavars for independence….they didn’t get that independence on their own; they haven’t kept it so far on their own; and they won’t keep it for at least, say , the next ten years (minimum) on their own, either. Everyone else is doing the heavy lifting for them.
    Contrast that with Taiwan. Which turned itself into a democracy through their own efforts – the first one in Chinese diaspora/cultural history. They are prosperous, free, democratic; and most of that heavy lifting has been done by them, often after great cost. (Taiwan has never in the last couple of decades been provided the degree of defense umbrella that we continue to provide those poverty-stricken countries of Japan, Korea, Germany……). Not to mention that often when the US went to war – Korea, Vietname et al – Taiwan contributed its own troops.
    It’s not just bumbling of policy that could have been done better here with Kosova. This whole thing also ranks almost off-scale high on the hypocrisy meter, vis a vis the Taiwan scenario.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    Condi fumbled, anything to try and save her reputation.
    Bush of course trying to claim some kind of success in his legacy. Right along the lines of St.Reagan claiming the Iron Curtain fall as his own, or at least as the GOP does at this time….


  4. john somer says:

    Putin is toeing the Tsars’ line. In 1830, when the Belgians rose up against the authoritarian Dutch king, the Tsar declared their newly formed country illegal and breaking the order established by the Congress of Vienna. He decided to send troops to quell the insurrection but made the mistake of deciding to send Polish conscripts along with his Cossacks. The young Poles, themselves under foreign domination, were in no mood to go and fight people who had just won their independence and rebelled. The Tsar had to use his Cossacks to quell the Warsaw uprising and it took such a long time before their commanding general could tell his sovereign that “Order is re-established in Warsaw” that the Belgians had already won approval from Britain and France. History has a funnny way of repeating itself…


  5. TonyForesta says:

    The rapidly increasing proliferation of conventional weapons in Asia and Russia http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JB14Ad02.html adds fuel to this potential fire in the former Yugoslavia. Like Iraq, the ethnic and cultural divides in what is now Kosovo have very deep ancient roots, that will not be easily mended without international assistance, and support.
    As US Russia relations deteriorate further, and weapons proliferations increase dramatically globally, that needed assistance and support is replaced by further, more entrenched division.
    The potential for another bloody, costly, genocidal, civil war erupting here, and in other hotspots, (The Bekaa Valley, Gaza come immediately to mind) – it would appear that peace and reconciliation are hollow hopes that are dead on arrival, and the only people on earth who will benefit from the wild and wayward policies and provocations, and widening divisions in Kosovo and elsewhere, – are the warmongers and profiteers selling, proliferating, and proselytizing weapons and neverendingwar.
    “Deliver us from evil!”


  6. Damir says:

    While I don’t doubt that this could’ve been handled better, I also think this is exactly the outcome Russia most desired. I’m skeptical of the good intentions of the Kremlin that your source has leaked to you, Steve.
    It’s a win for Russia because it pushes Serbia closer into their orbit and allows them to consolidate their tight grip on energy exports to Eastern and Central Europe. A good backgrounder can be found here:
    I usually love Anatol Lieven’s analysis, but his argument that Russia somehow cares about an evenhanded and fair international system is, in my view, fairly naive. Russia is trying to get back what it thinks is its natural regional influence, wherever and however it possibly can. Dealing with such a Russia requires smart strategic vision on the part of America, something the current Bush administration has repeatedly proven it is incapable of delivering.
    Russia, however, is not and will not be a strategic partner to the United States. Russophiles like Simes understand this, but nevertheless disingenuously argue that American concessions to Russia’s ambitions will yield a peaceful partnership. Russia is still a Great Power, and while we ought to make some accommodation towards this reality, giving Russia sway over its near abroad in Eastern Europe, for example, is a big mistake.


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